Sunday, October 5, 2014

August's "Safe Spaces"

     Dr. Gerri August, currently a member of the Rhode Island College faculty, has penned a very straightforward and concise read regarding the many issues that the LGBT community faced at the time this article was written, and continue to face today.The article breaks down some of the key reasons as to why there is such a struggle with the tremendous outpouring of individuals who now identify as LGBT, or who always has identified as LGBT, and have had concerns with coming out. August's article breaks down two key components that go into making this situation a hassle for everyone: curriculum & communication.
     The curricula currently used in classrooms today, especially in classrooms in the 20th Century, reflect a classic point of view on the LGBT community, where the topic simply is not discussed. Page 85 of August's article states: "...the traditional curriculum typically ignores the experiences or contributions of LGBT people." This is a sad point to think upon, due in part of the fact that there is so much that LGBT people have indeed contributed to our society. The amount of progress made today shows perseverance and determination, and the will to go on. Currently, there are 19 states in the United States that allow and have legalized same-sex marriage; a remarkable achievement thinking how at one point, the LGBT community could not even identify themselves as such. Back to the topic of schooling, even the years I was in middle and high school, I was fully aware that there was an LGBT community, however, the subject of sexual orientation was never formally taught in classes. At my high school however, there was a club called the Gay-Straight Alliance which allowed kids who may or may not have identified themselves as LGBT to come and talk in a safe and welcoming environment. Very slowly, we can begin to see that the LGBT community becomes more and more accepted in the world today. That being said, we cannot at the same time neglect the parts of the world that wish not to respect the lifestyle. It can be this disrespect or hostility toward the topic that can cause a number of things, including bullying, self-consciousness, and suicide. A short statistical article posted in 2013 shows that about 30% of all completed suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis. It also shows that people who identify as LGBT are more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe in the environment they are in. This again ties to curriculum, and gives the possibility that maybe if the subject was given more thought and attention in schools nationwide and worldwide, that the LGBT community would be more accepted and feel more comfortable in a school environment.
     Something that truly struck me about the topic of communication was the story of young Marcus, who was given a trip to the principal's office as well as an in-school suspension for using the word "gay" to describe his parents. He was not using this term in a derogatory manner, but instead to describe that he has two moms. I was astounded by this, as the teacher then said "I feel that parents should explain things of this nature to their own children in their own way." I immediately was drawn back to Rodriguez' Aria, and how he was continuously told to speak English in class, and how his parents needed to help him develop this skill. The teacher essentially cuts the student off from being honest or truly thinking critically, which should not be allowed. Communication is one of the most powerful tools a human being has, as words are some of the most powerful conveyors of feeling and emotion. Tying back to the LGBT community, there needs to be more effective communication in schools between teachers and students on the topic of sexual orientation, and how it can have an affect on the daily life of an individual who identifies as LGBT. If the subject was looked at more carefully and with more compassion, we will begin to realize that everyone is equal, love is equal, and there are no bounds when it comes to gender. We cannot fall into certain social conventions and stigmas that disallow LGBT people the right to love to. We must work toward the prevalence of this community, and make this truly a free and equal country to live in, and while I myself do not fall into this LGBT category, I believe in equality and fairness for all.



1 comment:

  1. I also was very surprised by the story of Marcus. I would have never guess that a child explaining his family unit would be cause for a trip to the principal's office. The students and the educator lost on a valuable teaching experience. I am interested to know what the principal had to say on the issue, or if word ever got back to the parents, and if so, how they then handled the situation...